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This is huge. Oprah is on board for MDMA! In the March edition of O Magazine, there's an in-depth article about how the drug MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, can help treat PTSD. In the first clinical trial of its kind, seventeen out of twenty patients no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD after 2 or 3 psychotherapy sessions with MDMA.

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If this subject sounds interesting to you, go ahead and read the full article - "Can A Single Pill Change Your Life?". It's hands-down the best written piece on the subject yet. Also, the author-- who was initially skeptical and not mentally ill-- took a dose as an experiment and it had a beneficial impact on her life.  The description of her trip is very interesting as well.  From somebody who has been interested in this issue for a long time, this is a big deal :) This is a great sign.

300,000 American soldiers are suffering from PTSD. That means that a soldier is more likely to die by suicide than be killed in combat. It's insane but I think that most people are reading this are familiar with the news about PTSD so I'm going to get right to the point.

There is a cure. We know that there is a cure because in the first ever clinical trial conducted in 2009 by an American doctor in South Carolina, seventeen out of twenty patients with treatment-resistant PTSD recovered after only a few dose sessions combined with psychotherapy. There is a reason why the youth of this world have named the drug MDMA 'ecstasy' and that is because it provides a 4-hour window to a world of happiness and acceptance, without fear or anxiety, where you can reprocess memories with self-acceptance so that the next day or next month they aren't overwhelming.

It's now 2011 and I haven't heard a single word from anybody in the government about this. Last July, I posted a diary about accepting the Meteor Blades challenge called What I'm Doing - Medicinal MDMA. Almost six months ago, I made a public commitment to work on an issue that I thought was important. While a pre-med student in San Francisco, I became interested in this issue since I have a little bit of experience with both trauma and ecstasy, and it combines my background in politics with my passion for helping people.

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Now, I'd like to introduce the progress that I have made. Last month, I created The Med-X Campaign to promote the medical use of ecstasy to treat PTSD. The website is up, it looks good, and it's about 90% done. I need help and am looking for a Wordpress coder to help finish it, as well as anybody who wants to help fund it.

To put it simply, self-starting a project from design to development has been an incredible learning experience. Really I underestimated the amount of time that goes into creating a project from scratch. I'm a bit burned out now, but it's something I'm going to work on like a turtle, maybe 5-10 hours a week or something.

People ask me, why am I doing this? To me, this is real healthcare reform. This country may not be ready for universal healthcare, but we can probably make this small change in public policy (rescheduling one drug so that a doctor's office can prescribe not for take home use, but in a controlled setting, kind of like a methadone clinic) that would really heal people who are sick and wounded. There's 300,000 American soldiers with PTSD. That means 300,000 American families are suffering. Millions more, especially women who have been sexually assaulted, could benefit from a single dose of a drug that we know is safe and has minimal side effects. Because we all go through suffering, this is universal healthcare that we can make real.

Then there's the really grand goal of healing the world by bringing this medicine to the people who need it most - the people suffering in Haiti and Japan, the people who have been bombed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the people who have gone through a trauma so terrible that they will never recover without medical aid that a simple drug can provide in the right setting, with medical professionals and loved ones like family and friends to allow the process of healing.

As always, patience and persistence are the keys here. Medical MDMA won't happen tomorrow, or maybe even next year. If you or somebody you know has PTSD, I wish I could refer you to MDMA therapy in your area, but it's difficult right now. Remember that the wheels of change are turning. With Oprah on board, she'll bring the mainstream and that's what I'm hoping to harness once the website and video PSA is finished. Keep me in your prayers, thanks for reading!

Originally posted to adaptive on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 04:50 PM PDT.

Also republished by Mental Health Awareness and SciTech.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ooh.Oprah.Her CIA keeper Gayle will be so proud. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akeitz, paradise50
  •  Having taken pure MDMA many times (8+ / 0-)

    I support your effort.

    They who won't will never know.

    The terror/angst in you is lost - at least for a while.

    "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

    by shrike on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 05:38:30 PM PDT

    •  I also had access to pure MDMA, (10+ / 0-)

      back when it was legal and shared with me by a psychotherapist friend.  Being free of fear and anxiety was an incredible platform from which to explore past issues involving self-esteem and trauma.

      Once you know (not think or believe-- actually know) that you're just fine it changes your relationship to the world.

      FDR: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
      RNC: The only thing we have is fear.

      by smileycreek on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 06:01:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah.. (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo, old wobbly, kyril, Kysen, smileycreek, G2geek

        anyone with any experience with MDMA would surely agree.  Some psychologists who dealt with folks with very high levels of anxiety (PTSD qualifies too) claimed they could get a year's worth of therapy done in a single 3-4 hour session with their patient having taken MDMA.

        Alex Shulgin (he who synthesized MDMA from the original formula by Merck circa 1912...who had no idea what it was nor made any of it) was very adamant about the extreme clinical value of MDMA.  The powers that be, though, shot him down and made MDMA illegal in 1987.

        "Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences." --Paradise50

        by paradise50 on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 06:59:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Alexander Shulgin and the cure for sociopathy: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I know him; he goes by Sasha rather than Alex.  

          He discovered another compound that mimics the emotional flat-line state of protracted painful boredom that is the key subjective symptom experienced by sociopaths.  (I'm not going to disclose the name of the compound in public.)

          We discussed this one night and he described a research protocol using subclinical doses of this compound, that could elucidate the neurophysiological mechanisms that underlie sociopathy (antisocial personality disorder).  

          Once you can a) induce or mimic the symptom, and b) determine how it's happening in the brain, you're within reach of a medical treatment: a pill that could correct the abnormal brain chemistry.  

          This needs funding.  

          Think of it as the cure for Tom DeLay, Karl Rove, and all the banksters on Wall Street.

          Also the cure for all those remorseless killers who "show no emotion" in court.  

          Not for Gingrich though, he's narcissistic personality disorder, as is Palin.  

    •  You lucky guy (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks for your support.

      Of course I can't convince everyone but I don't need to. There's enough people who know that this is the right thing to do.

      Especially when it becomes a veterans issue for the troops.

  •  Thanks for the diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvaire, Kysen, paradise50, Alec82

    I can see how MDMA might be useful for this kind of treatment.  I am not sure that an endorsement from Oprah (who is very popular, but also regarded as a flaky celeb) is a huge deal in terms of medical use being allowed and/or undertaken, but I suppose it doesn't hurt.

  •  As someone who has PTSD (9+ / 0-)

    I really, really wish I could find some hope in this treatment. It sounds wonderful for all the people it will help.

    Sadly, it's out of the question for me personally. I've "experimented" with MDMA, and I get none of the positive effects people rave about, and some truly awful negative effects. I quite literally threw up for four hours straight. Both times, because I was convinced to try it a second time by a friend who insisted I'd had a bad batch/something that wasn't MDMA the first time.

    Best way I can describe it is that it feels like a vastly intensified version of how I feel on antidepressants - all the nausea, teeth grinding, shakiness, hyperalertness, and anxiety, multiplied by about 100 and compressed into a 4-hour timeframe. I have no idea how anyone could enjoy serotonin-boosting drugs, much less get therapeutic effects from them. But I'm glad some people's hoping for effective treatment for more trauma survivors. Maybe someday they'll find something I can take :)

    •  Sorry for that experience you had (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Kysen, ZenTrainer, paradise50, Alec82

      it sounds like mine - but on Crystal Meth (shudders  ughhhh - awful!).

      In the 90s I did it all before the stereotypes set in.

      "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

      by shrike on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 06:29:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  individual variations and other compounds. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In fact there are other compounds that are similar to MDMA but not the same, for example MDEA which is known to produce nausea & vomiting.

      Also some people take 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) to attempt to offset some of the side-effects of MDMA, but the fact is that 5-HTP also induces nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

      So you may have had an unusual individual reaction to actual MDMA, but it's more likely you had a compound that was not in fact MDMA.

      In any case there are some other compounds that could be used as therapeutic adjuncts, for example Propranolol in conjunction with Ericksonian hypnosis, to produce similar benefits but with more effort to achieve them.  

      MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is a prototype for a general protocol that will ultimately be possible to duplicate well enough via other means, to have therapeutic value for people for whom MDMA itself is not indicated.  

      •  I thought about that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bythesea, G2geek

        but since then I've had an almost identical (though somewhat less severe) reaction to an unfortunate combination of antidepressants, and was diagnosed and treated in the hospital for serotonin syndrome.

        I'm reasonably convinced that I'm just unusually sensitive to elevated serotonin levels. Even ordinary doses of SSRIs make me a shaky, twitchy, nauseous, anxious, teeth-grinding, sweating, trembling wreck eventually - they just do it over a couple of weeks instead of hours.

      •  Forgot to finish my thought (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bythesea, G2geek

        Basically, I've decided I'm going to avoid serotonergic substances - don't think it matters if it's MDMA, MDEA, LSD, or Paxil. They've never done anything but make me feel like crap anyway, so it's no loss really.

        •  that sounds like an individual variation. (0+ / 0-)

          Sounds to me that you have individual factors of brain chemistry such that serotonergic substances in general are contraindicated.  In which case yes it's wise to avoid all of them, subject to the advice of your doctor(s).  

          MDEA was something of a dead-end: it was tested on human subjects for a while but basically abandoned as being less useful than MDMA, since the side effects were somewhat greater and the therapeutic effects were somewhat less.  

          LSD has significant potential, and I also think that in subclinical doses over an extended period of time (2 - 5 micrograms per day as compared to a regular 100 microgram clinical dose) it may prove useful at reducing age-related cognitive decline.  For psychotherapy, LSD in full clinical dose range might be indicated primarily for people facing end-of-life issues, since the duration of effect is useful in that context and there is post-session analgesia for days at a time (helpful in dealing with physical pain issues) (see also Eric Kast's study of LSD for cancer patients).

          For psychotherapy, psilocybin and MDMA will eventually go mainstream (by which I mean, available but not necessarily widely used).  Also possibly n-n-DMT in smaller than overtly psychedelic doses, as a means of obtaining a very quick survey of one's internal landscape from which to find items to work on in therapy after the drug wears off.  

          If the FDA continues to take a rational approach to these things, we are going to see progress.

          For your situation, I don't know what to suggest because I don't have much knowledge of the individual variations that contraindicate SSRIs (and in any case I'm not a doctor).  

  •  Interesting diary, adaptive.... (7+ / 0-)

    I'm one who is fully behind further studies not only on MDMA, but also on LSD and psilocybin. Honestly, since it was used for years successfully for counseling/therapy, I think MDMA ought be on a fast track to legalization again for such uses.

    Republished to the Mental Health Awareness Group.

    Thank you!

    Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

    by Kysen on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 06:37:44 PM PDT

    •  Legalization (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kysen, G2geek

      for medicinal purposes under strict doctor obserbservation, MDMA can have some bad side effects, and is very bad if taken often.

      Dailykos is Dead... Long live Dailykos!

      by Drewid on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 07:14:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So can many other drugs if not (0+ / 0-)

        used carefully.  Haldol is a big one in terms of long term effects, and lithium can easily kill you if you aren't careful about getting enough water and sodium (salt).  Not to mention Propofol, the general anesthetic which killed Michael Jackson.  Yes, Propofol abuse by medical professionals (as a depressant/downer) is a serious and growing problem even more so than MDMA.

      •  Yes, FDA Schedule II. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        MDMA and other entactogens, and LSD, psilocybin, and other psychedelics, should ultimately reside on FDA Schedule II, where they would be used in a quasi-inpatient setting that could include the option of an overnight stay and follow-up counseling the next day.  

        Of all of these compounds, I tend to think that MDMA and psilocybin are the most promising in terms of their effects and also their overall safety.  They are quite safe when "used as directed" under competent medical supervision.  

        The protocol I think will ultimately develop will entail specialized inpatient facilities where there will be a supervising psychiatrist (MD, PhD) and perhaps six to eight psychologists (PhD) with special training who actually conduct the sessions and pre-session and follow-up therapy.  

        Those psychologists (PhD) will be specialists who interface with the patients' regular general practice physicians (MDs) and regular psychotherapists (MAs and PhDs), so there will be continuity from a patient's regular care to the specialized care involved in these types of treatments.

        This will not be inexpensive, but it holds enormous promise for helping people whose situations were previously considered difficult or impossible to treat.

    •  The potential possibilities (0+ / 0-)

      I agree, thanks for saying that. Of course, full legalization is out of the question, but consider the case of marijuana. It's illegal, but approved for medical use in over 20 states I think. That's the kind of gradual change we're likely to see.

      Are you familiar with the work of MAPS? The Multi-disciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies is a 501c3 that is funding the research for MDMA and other compounds. There was an especially high-profile study for psilocybin at John Hopkins, where all the subjects agreed it was one of the most spiritual experiences of their lives, and there may be "medical" use for end-of-life anxiety / depression for those with terminal illnesses.

      To me, MDMA seems to be the most likely psychedelic drug candidate since PTSD is such an important issue, and it may open the door for more research and acceptance of other compounds.

  •  Good diary, and (7+ / 0-)

    I like your perspective. I am not overly fussed what Oprah says, but I guess it could be good for influencing public opinion. ;)

    Republished to SciTech.

    Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative. - William S. Burroughs

    by sricki on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 06:47:38 PM PDT

    •  The science behind MDMA's pharmacology (0+ / 0-)

      Right, and you have to remember that about 15 years ago she was saying it put "holes in your brain" on national TV :)

      If you're interested in the how of the neuropharmarmacology, there's a good article with an interview of two scientists that goes into things MDMA's ability to increase oxytocin and promote pro-social behavior, decrease amygdala activity and fear, and researchy things like that

      Article is here

  •  ROFLMAO. (9+ / 0-)

    I spent a decade in the penitentiary, essentially for self medicating with LSD, deperately seeking that kind of relief before PTSD had even made it into the books (i.e., pre DSM III).
    Truth is, for me at least, it really helped in a lot of ways, and other than a lot of years behind bars and walls, I don't see how it hurt.
    Nevertheless, I don't advise self medication, especially when there's a DSM number a physician can prescribe for.
    And perhaps more to the point, the LSD didn't "cure" the PTSD, just made the symptoms more livable. The treatment I'm currently undergoing at the VA, which has a proven track record and a success rate comparable to the effort put in, is entirely mood altering substance free, scraping the wounds raw, letting them bleed a little to clean them out, and then genuine healing.
    It's damned hard work, but I see the faces of fellas I knew before who're ahead of me in the program, and I want what they've gotten. Even now, all these years later.

    RECALL JAN BREWER: The headless body has been found, she's sitting in the Governor's chair.

    by DaNang65 on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 07:01:25 PM PDT

    •  MDMA by itself (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kysen, paradise50, Alec82, DaNang65, G2geek

      isn't claimed to cure PTSD  - the benefit is supposed to be in its effect on the therapy session while the client is under the influence. The feeling of trust and safety most people experience while on MDMA apparently dramatically increases the effectiveness of therapy, because clients are able to talk about their experiences without experiencing the anxiety and flashbacks that complicate ordinary therapy sessions.

      Therapists don't want to just send their clients home with an MDMA prescription and a few glow sticks and tell them to party until they're cured. (At least, I expect most don't.) The idea is to administer the drug under controlled circumstances and then take advantage of its effects to accomplish basically the same thing you're accomplishing, but over a shorter period of time. The success rates are really very good, and it's not at all comparable to self-medicating.

      •  True! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        MDMA is a chemical that specifically "fits" into both seratonin receptors and dopamine receptors.  

        The seratonin receptor part of it completely creates a feeling of trust and empathy...and connection. (It was first called Empathy, as a matter of fact in the dance scene.  That name just didn't catch it was changed to Ecstasy.  That worked).

        The dopamine receptor part causes an amped-up feeling, which can include jaw clenching.  That part is what keeps you up and feeling like you want to move and dance.

        If you had a "bad trip" on E, then it was surely not pure.  Currently only 15% of what is sold as E is in fact E.

        If you have high anxiety or PTSD, you would only want to take pure E and under the guidance of a guide or therapist.

        If you don't have high anxiety or PTSD, what E does is cause you to let go of all your baggage.  All your self doubts, anxiety and the internal dialogue you have telling you "bad things" about yourself go off to the side lines.  All the judgments people have laid on you that you internalized are no longer relevant.  You are left feeling who you truly are, without all the crap you cart along that you normally use to define yourself.

        You are left with the real you who is connected, confident, trusting and loving.

        It may sound corny, but it is the truth.

        "Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences." --Paradise50

        by paradise50 on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 07:54:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  exactly correct. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It's an in-patient treatment that is very carefully managed to assure safety and effectiveness.

  •  I support the use.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ....of hallucinogens like MDMA, LSD and others for therapeutic purposes.  Actually I think that people should be allowed to alter their consciousness freely, and given that the abuse potential for these drugs is relatively low I really do not understand why they are treated the way that they are, given that mood altering prescription drugs are clearly being abused (unless you believe that significant percentages of the American population suffer from psychological conditions that really require medicinal treatment, which I do not).  

     So I support this relatively small step, but I would add that I am on board for a much broader legalization campaign.  

    "...after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."

    by Alec82 on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 08:05:28 PM PDT

  •  Theoretically a good ideabut (0+ / 0-)

    I worry about effects of long term self medicating after initial clinical therapy, since the drug is so relatively easy to procure, and one's memories from the first uses can be so powerfully seductive.

    My completely unscientific and therefore likely irrelevant point? Long term use really does change your brain, in similar ways to meth and heroin. This will be shunned by the likes of progressive medicine as anecdotal, but I'm speaking from personal experience and the stories of many, many acquaintances; it's truly harder to feel as naturally happy as we did "before". :( Former addicts to meth and herion will know what I'm talking about - it can be very subtle, but a slight emptiness is always there, nagging. And it's NOT psychological.

    That said, I think LSD would be a better option because in this day it's not as naturally popular recreationally, and since it's a simple hallucinogen as opposed to a methamphetamine, doesn't permanently alter your brain.  Of course the courses would be infinitely harder to administer but I believe pure hallucinogens to be vastly superior to mdma in psychopharmacology.

    The truth is there is vast uncollected evidence of this that hasn't hit even the most progressive of these medical movements.

  •  about prevention: (0+ / 0-)

    It appears there is a viable method to prevent a traumatic experience from turning into PTSD:

    As quickly as possible after the traumatic experience, give the patient a dose of Propranolol (a beta-blocker that has proven highly effective at treating certain types of anxiety & fear conditions including phobias), and get them on Propranolol for a period of days following the event.  

    This prevents the trauma from turning into a traumatic memory that can be revivified by routine stimuli.  

    This should become standard practice with victims of rape and other types of assault, survivors of disasters, and so on.  

    I would add to it mild doses of "-pam" tranquilizers (e.g. diazepam aka Valium) for a period of time that overlaps the Propranolol to some degree and continues for about a week after the Propranolol has been discontinued.  The goal being to taper off the meds successfully by using a combination of meds at low dosages.

  •  Thanks for the great diary (0+ / 0-)

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